Custom Ink, LLC SWOT Analysis


Custom Ink is a company that utilizes various vendors and suppliers to create 100% original t-shirts for consumers, all while remaining 100% online. The company features an online design lab that allows customers to create their own designs and save them for later or purchase them right away. All designs can be printed on any of the various t-shirts Custom Ink has to offer including sweatshirts and long sleeves in various fabrics. Custom Ink started in 1999 when a group of college classmates got together and wanted to start a business of their own. From there it has become one of the fastest growing businesses of the decade. [1]

The following outlines a SWOT analysis of Custom Ink, LLC:


  • Variety of products that appeal to both the sports and business target markets.[2]
  • Company is solely online which allows them to reach a wider range of customers.
  • There is a large network of skilled individuals working for them which enables Custom Ink to operate very efficiently.
    • They have established vendors all around the US and they utilize various print shops so their work orders don’t fall onto one company’s production line. This allows the company to be scalable and flexible as different print shops open and older ones go out of business.
  • They have a very fast turnaround from design creation to shirts being delivered which appeals to the millennial generation in that they want everything at the tip of their finger and in their hands as soon as possible.


  • Does not have a physical location to reach audiences who find their technology hard to understand and they offer no alternative way to order t-shirts from their company.
  • T-shirts are often a one-time purchase so returning customers are not always a given. This means that the company’s turnover ratio with customers is likely to be low. They will need to continue their efforts to find new customers daily to keep sales increasing.
  • Company lacks in face-to-face interactions and personal selling to get customers to return to them for business.


  • Has developed a partnership with Gap which enables Custom Ink to appeal to consumers who are brand loyal to Gap’s t-shirts.[3] Custom Ink has also recently purchased the well-known Represent brand. Represent is a company that sells custom t-shirts for celebrity run campaigns such as the #tothebrave fundraiser started by Leo Messi for kids with cancer. Both of these working relationships are expanding Custom Inks market reach.[4]
    • There are more opportunities for Custom Ink to improve their market reach by obtaining more partnerships with companies like Adidas, Under Armour, or Polo in the future.
  • Custom Ink can further develop their services for business branding to compete with companies like Discount Mugs (i.e. they can print on more promotional materials besides types of shirts). This will not only increase their market reach but will increase their market depth.


  • There is a lot of competition present in the market, both in the form of larger companies like CaféPress and in the form of smaller businesses.
  • Smaller businesses give a more intimate interaction with customers than Custom Ink can give to their customers. Personal selling may take more time and effort, but with online selling being as big as it is, millennial consumers tend to remember the personal interactions they have had more than the online interactions they have with a company.